Written January 8, 2012.
My first run-in with Hershey’s chocolate syrup came sometime last summer. Leaving my 2-year-old to his own devices for a whole minute or two, he saw chocolate syrup on the table, and found he had a terrible, immediate need for chocolate milk. I came in the dining room to find a glass with about an inch of chocolate syrup in the bottom (yes, that should be sufficient), and then discovered he went a step further and decided to make a few extra lakes of chocolate syrup on the living room carpet for later.
I stepped in with some remediation: a time-out on the steps, an explanation that chocolate syrup belongs in a glass, not on carpet, told him only moms and dads get to use it, and followed up by giving him a rag and making him clean. Two-year-olds are terrible cleaners, and he probably made the mess worse, but the cleaning was about restorative justice, not efficiency. After mopping up the lakes, I put the chocolate syrup away in the fridge. I blame sleep deprivation-induced insanity on thinking that simply putting the offending syrup away behind the closed door of the refrigerator would take care of the problem.
Farming Chocolate Syrup
All seemed well on a morning a few weeks later when I put down our baby for her morning nap. Usually when I take her upstairs and nurse her to sleep, we get interrupted several times by the aforementioned 2-year-old. That morning, though, I had a full 15-minute blissful reprieve from the world. All was quiet. In fact, I almost feel asleep as I laid on my bed feeding her. But in the mommy world, no quiet reprieve is ever without its consequences. In the eery quiet, I suddenly bolted up in terror, mommy senses tingling.
Just across the hallway was a little boy, fully engrossed in his activities. Chocolate syrup somehow made its way out of the fridge, and then found itself in several puddles on his bedroom carpet and a bonus chocolate puddle was later discovered in the playroom. Most magnificent was the erector set front loader set that he used to “farm” the chocolate syrup more properly into the carpet, improving both coverage and penetration. I apologize that the photo is grainy and does not do justice to the full extent of the mess. The picture was a quick snap with my camera phone that I emailed to his father with a comment thanking him for producing such clever, industrious offspring.
Snapping an incredulous photo was about all I had in me, though. Thinking about cleaning up a chocolate syrup mess again just sapped the little smidgen of energy I had in me. Instead, I gave it a quick fix: I covered the chocolate puddles with some toilet paper, not cleaning it up, but preventing the mess from spreading out any further than what it already was. I figured an evening cleaning would get the job done just the same. Later that day, Jarred saw the mess. Forgetting the photo I had sent him, he asked with reservation if I knew if one of the kids or maybe Spot had an “accident” on the bedroom floor that somebody tried to “fix” with toilet paper.
And now, I will tell you my shameful secret: that chocolate syrup patched with toilet paper sat there for a few months. Yes, months. I really spent most of the summer in survival mode. A new baby seems to throw ordinary life out of whack for about six months, but for me, our new baby was the easy one. Our 2-year-old took about 75% of my time last summer, the other three kids including our baby encompassed the rest. I picked up toys and put away clothes, but every time I glanced at those messes, they just seemed too daunting. I am happy to report, however, that those messes are now just a not-so-distant memory. Chocolate syrup, even if it sits for far too long, actually cleans up quite nicely.
After that incident, I unequivocally learned my own lesson. Chocolate syrup still has a place in our life, but sequestered on house arrest on top of the refrigerator. These days, in order to reach the syrup, one needs to be at least five feet tall. All is well. Mostly.
One day as I put a basket of laundry away upstairs, the chocolate bandit struck again. Somehow, we unintentionally left the Hershey’s on the counter that day. Feeling like I’d accomplished something positive getting the clothes put away, I returned to not just puddles of chocolate, but a full on Hurricane Hershey in my living room, dining room, and kitchen. Missing chocolate syrup for a few months, our son was far more prolific this time. It was everywhere: streaked in chocolate swirls and loops across the carpet, spiraled up the steps and punctuated there with a deep puddle of chocolate in a small garbage can borrowed from the bathroom, drooled into the kitchen leaving streaks of chocolate graffiti on the garbage can and floor, and finally, for his baby sister sitting in her high chair, a large puddle lovingly squirted all over her tray for her gleeful enjoyment.
The chocolatey mess was sheer carnage. I couldn’t put our amazing 2-year-old in time out because the usual step was covered in chocolate mess. In the melee, I snapped a picture of a very happy baby accomplice, made the naughty boy do some cleaning of the kitchen linoleum and garbage can, then threw two messy kids in the tub. The rest of the clean-up is a blur. We buy our chocolate syrup at Costco, where bottles come in a convenient bulk-size twin pack. Imagine.
Another Blow to our Sanity
Lately, chocolate doesn’t feel like an indulgent treat for some reason. Days Free of Chocolate Incidents to Report: 76 and counting. However, this morning as I put down his sister for a nap, our little wonder discovered an appliance he’d never seen before sitting unplugged on the laundry room table. He hauled it to the living room, plugged it in, and seeing that it did not light up or make fun noises, he abandoned it face down in the middle of living room carpet. We now have melted, ironed flat carpet. I kid you not.
When Jarred came home for lunch and saw the melted imprint of an iron in the center of the living room carpet, he almost immediately broke out into laughter. Living under the reign of a terrorist regime (The Terrible Twos), you find a way to see humor even in the atrocities of daily life. It’s a defense mechanism that helps keep us humans from going completely insane. Please check in next week to make sure we still have a house.